On the 18th, a new apprentice comes to visit. Always fun! Before that I will get the room cleaned and all the knives sharpened, a finished GammelGura is the goal that I think we will succeed with 🙂
In my private collection I had an American parlor made with the finest rosewood. The story begins with a purchase of a guitar project on eBay by a customer who wanted to make an GammelGura on it. When it came from the USA, it turned out that the neck was extremely wide, about 49 mm at the nut, and did not suit the customer who wanted a narrower neck. I ended up redeeming it and another guitar with a narrow neck was used as GammelGura object. Hera are pictures from the eBay auction.
Unlike old European parlor guitars, the American ones are almost always provided with a manufacturer name. This one had a stamp "W. A. Cole, Boston" on top of the edge of the head, inside was an ink stamp "W. A. Cole, Boston, 1898 Model". After some searching on the internet, it turned out that many high-quality banjos were manufactured under the name W. A. Cole around 1890-1922, not as many guitars. But the ones that are available are nice, often with very intricate inlays in the fretboard. The guitars also have their own and lightly built variant of the X-bracing. It is an unusual guitar of good quality, here you can see a finer copy. Here you can also read more about WA Cole.
This guitar was simpler, but still with a nice rosette with several layers of herringbone strips. At the bottom there is also a beautiful center strip. As stated, the best rosewood in the bottom and side and as veneer on the top of the head. Mahogany in the neck and top in spruce, most likely Adirondack. The paint on the top is colored orange, the same color I have seen on other American parlor guitars from around 1900. I think this is made about 1905, a copy dated to 1909 had simple round dots in the fretboard. The tuning screws are beautiful and works very well. The inlays in the fretboard, on the other hand, are rather sparse and not engraved as on finer specimens. The ebony fingerboard was flat with a white celluloid strip around it.
The bridge was replaced by a larger, more modern one. The bottom had several cracks (which were difficult to see in the dark wood!). The neck had probably received a blow when the foot of the neck was cracked and the top repaired around the sound hole at the end of the fingerboard. There is a mark on the back of the neck as well, probably from the "bang"! The top had some major cracks behind the bridge. An pearl inlay at the 12th band had been removed, and a screw had been pulled into the neck foot to repair the crack. The sides had no cracks, but there was a weakening right at the edge of the kerfing on the inside on both sides. The celluloid strip around the fretboard was thin, and a few pieces were missing. Despite all the small problems and previous repairs, the condition was good after all, it was complete (except for the bridge) and all faults were fully repairable. Here are pictures before I cracked open the guitar.
I told about it to a friend who really wanted to buy it and get it renovated and so it was. From the beginning, it was only intended as a repair and a quick "flip", but the project grew and all the steps I usually use in an GammelGura were done. Since I took many pictures on the road on behalf of the buyer (except when I forgot the camera at home), there are many pictures of this renovation process.
The celluloid strip around the bottom could be loosened completely. The celluloid was still tough and flexible and had not shrunk much, very unusual! The neck came loose in two parts, no glue had been used when tightening the screw. Under the bridge, the top was very broken.
Nice inlays and purflings.
The braces in the bottom sat well, but only at the ends. In the middle, the glue had released. Here I did one of the two mistakes made during the renovation, the top brace was well glued, and the bottom had an unexpected run-out, so there was a crack in the bottom after I loosened the brace that did not exist before.
The braces of the top sat really well, but they were too wide and low and had been deformed. They were replaced with new, taller and narrower ones.
I found a bridge blank by the finest rosewood and a matching dark Madagascar rosewood board.
Some pictures after the repair of the top and the milling of a carbon fiber rod in the neck.
The new pyramid bridge was formed with various rasps.
Good color matching on bridge and fretboard.
Before drilling the stringpin holes, you need to measure a little.
I use a thin piece of wood to give the holes a slight slope. The underside of the bridge should follow the slightly domed top.
Before gluing the bridge, the plugs must be drilled and mounted. I used BFGGGG plugs from the E to the e string. All are end wood, B is birch, F is pine and G is spruce. In an X ribbed guitar you need treble, on a ladder braced I have no plugs on the treble unwound b and e strings. All the braces in the top had already been glued in place in my go-bar in almost the same pattern as the original.
Buttons in hard bubinga wood make the bridgeplate in spruce withstand the wear from the ball ends.
Here I glue the celluloid strip back into the sound hole. It had shrunk 1 mm in length. Nice flower!
Got some good advice from Per Marklund and took down the braces well below the X-rib junction.
A K&K mic was ordered. I drilled out the 12 mm wide hole with a step drill.
The bottom and top got cleats over the cracks.
During the bottom gluing, I made my second mistake. I heated the fridge-cold fish glue too much, so it became runny. Without seeing it, some glue ran down the side and penetrated under some caul blocks on the top side. The orange color on the top was just in the paint itself, and a few small shocks of paint got stuck in the cauls, leaving behind wood-white damage. In the future, it will be cold glue, perhaps supplemented with kitchen plastic on the edges of the top. I later saved what I could with orange stain and filled in the pits with tough 30 superglue, which was scraped flat against the rest of the top surface.
Apart from the mistake, the bottom gluing was perfect. The very narrow celluloid strip, less than 2 mm wide, actually fitted perfectly all around! It was glued back with 20 superglue. The neck foot was glued with hot hide glue, in addition, an 8 mm round rod in birch had been glued in through the entire foot with epoxy glue at the same time as the carbon fiber rod.
The dark rosewood board was filled with resins, when I was going to thin it with the rdrum sander, the resins melted and filled in two sandpaper before I was done. It took an hour to take it down 3 mm in thickness… The original fingerboard had perfectly OK placement of the frets - up to the 12th fret. After that, they were apparently applied with eye measurement, the last frets was placed 3-4 mm wrong!
Test mounting of loose fretboard. In the correct position, it was marked with a pencil from below how the fingerboard would be planed to get the right trapezoidal shape with a narrower upper part.
The fretboard got its 16 ″ radius in my new improved jig for sanding. It provides better precision, and it is easier to adjust the sanding height from above. In the last picture, the jig is ready, and the screws are cut to the right length.
The fretboard is glued with hot hide glue.
The critical neck set was then done in my neck reset gluing jig.
Before fretting, the fingerboard is ground to a small 0,15 radius in the position it is in when the strings are tuned. Among other things, I use an aluminum beam with a grounded inverted 0,15 radius as a sanding block.
The frets are mounted in my simple plank jig and a handhold fret press.
The inlays in the old fretboard are inlayed with a Dremel in the new one. I had to invent the insert at the 12th fret since the original was gone.
To crown the frets, the guitar is mounted once more in my jig with tensioned strings. The body, neck and head are then fixed with various clamps and supports so that the neck does not change its shape when the strings are loosened. Then the tops of the frets are sanded to a small relief, the tops are then rounded with a Z-file and sanded with 600 and 800 papers followed by steel wool and polishing with Autosol polishing compound. The ends of the frets are filed and rounded with special files.
The finished fretboard is oiled and cleaned.
Before the measurement of the saddle intonation begins, I extend the fretboard with a piece of maple. The measurement is then made with a stroboscope tuner, my special jig for adjusting the "saddle", small loose and tangless pieces of frets at the nut, new strings, feeler gauges and some tools to make adjustments to the intonation points' placement at both string ends. I also use reference strings to double-check and not be fooled by new defective strings. A boring job that takes a long time, but which is necessary.
The fretboard is cut at the point of intonation at the nut that came closest to the 1st fret.
To fit the new nut in camel bone, I use a small piece of self-adhesive sandpaper to shape the neck against the nut.
The positions of the notches in the nut are measured and marked. To easily align the measuring points, I use a long ruler between the center of the string pin hole and the marking on the nut. The lines do not become exactly 90 degrees but follow the line of the string. With a small thin saw, a saw cut is made in each notch.
The measurements from the measurement of intonation are used to mark how deep the milling should be done for all but one string (the one that came closest to the 1st band). Small brown pieces of tape mark the exact position on the nut.
The milling for intonation is done with a simple wooden jig and with the same jig that I use to mill the saddle ditch.
The measured position of the intonation points on the saddle is marked for each string. An approximately 4-4,5 mm wide inclined rectangle is marked that holds all intonation points. The rectangle is cut out to provide good contrast when the ditch is to be milled.
To make the segmented saddle, I first make a temporary saddle in spruce that fits perfectly in the saddle ditch. With a long ruler between the notch in the nut and placed in the center of the string pin hole, I mark where the string will pass the saddle. The the bass E side is marked with a dot so as not to turn it the wrong way.
A blank for the segmented saddle is sawn out of a piece of quartersawn spruce. The blank is thinned to about 5,5 mm in my drum sander.
Using the temporary saddle, I can mark the blank and saw out 5 mm wide notches centered over the position of the strings. I use my jig to saw fret grooves in fingerboards and a small jig that I attach the workpiece to and that moves the saw exactly 5 mm for the second sawing. The resulting pin in the middle can be easily broken off.
Finished pieces of 5 mm thick camel bone fit into the slots, the two outermost bone pieces are wider. The bone posts are then glued with tough 30 super glue, the fresh sanded spruce surfaces are "painted on" with thin liquid 10 superglue before they get dirty. A point extraction sucks away most of the aggressive fumes.
The blank is sanded approx. 1 mm lower on the treble side (according to the measurement saved when doing the intonation measurements) and then given the same radius as the fretboard. The depth of the saddle ditch is marked with a pencil. The height measured on the saddle at the intonation + the depth of the saddle ditch is used to cut the saddle to approximately the correct height. Later I glue a 1-1,5 mm strip in rosewood at the bottom to make the saddle stronger, then you also get another chance to adjust the height of saddle.
Final adjustment of the nut, saddle and intonation points on the saddle.
The guitar gets a round of thin spirit varnish, I use a clamp as a handle and a large round fine-haired brush. After at least one day of drying, the varnish is matted down with fine steel wool and polished back to a reasonable gloss with a linen cloth. After a month or so, you can polish again as the varnish has become harder.
By filing away as much as I dared on the side of the neck, I reduced the width of the nut to 46,5 mm. For me, the neck feels easy to play on, the few millimeters are noticeable!
How did it turn out then? Well, the answer is very good! I have a bit of a hard time with the tonality you get from X-bracing, a more fundamental and simple sound with more bass. Ladder bracing gives a different tone with a more complex and rich sound and less bass, which I always like. But this one turned out so well that I wanted to keep it. Very dynamic and powerful and perfect for strumming. This variant of X-bracing is at least as good as the one Martin came up with and which is standard nowadays. The braces that have been changed cover the surface of the top well. It was strung up with standard Newtone Masterclass 0,11 strings. It can probably handle 0,12 as well, but I'm a little afraid of unnecessarily high string tension.
I now have a better grasp of the X-bracing, I learned a lot on this project.
It started with me wanting to clean a shelf. One thing led to the other. Now the entire stock of fretboard blanks is sorted by quality, a couple of new drawers from IKEA mounted on one of the shelves and about 200 bracing blanks are about to be ready. There is still a lot of cleaning left after that, but I will have to postpone it to the future.
When I was cleaning, I came across a banana box with splintered spruce blanks of 100-year-old spruce. They came from an old house where about 60 cm long wooden planks were placed loosely in a panty bottom with wood shavings over as insulation. Most of it was in pine, but there was a lot of spruce as well. All plank pieces were sawn from old forest, some spruce planks have such dense grain that you have to use a magnifying glass to be able to distinguish the direction of the grain! It is noticeable that it is old wood, the spruce is mostly light and a little brittle as old wood becomes. I don't really know if I dare to use it in a top. Some are still strong though. Everyone has a great tap-tone!
My friend Björn Sohlin splintered the wood many years ago, but not everything got the final shape for a brace blank. To take advantage of the splintered spruce pieces, I must first give each piece two flat surfaces at 90 degrees to each other. It was made with a long planer tightened in my vise. When doing this it is important to make sure that you get standing wood in the piece you are planing. Then all the pieces were roughly sawn to 9 mm thickness in my small electrical saw bought from Jula. I think it is awful to use it as it is both dangerous and loud, but better that than hand sawing all the pieces…
The box now contains about 200 brace blanks that still need to be shaped further with a planer and drum sander to my standard 8 x 15 mm. But half the job is done anyway. I filled two garbage bags with shavings and there will be more. What is left is just a fraction of all the wood I started with!
I rarely do more than one GammelGura to one and the same customer at a time, in this batch there were three. I made all three ready as the first in the batch, they are still waiting to be picked up. It is two Levin from 1920 and an old European parlor. The customer actually came with three Levins in numerical order (47232, 47233, 47234), the third with floating bridge was made about a year ago. Very special! If you read in "About Levin" in Melodin 1920 was not a good year for Levin, the premises had burned down in 1918 and they only had 5-10 employees.
Two of the three Levin had floating bridges, the third a fixed bridge. The first one in good condition was allowed to keep the floating bridge, the second with a floating bridge was in a very poor condition and was converted to a permanent bridge in DADGAD tuning. The one with a fixed bridge, also in good condition, got a standard GammelGura conversion. Three identical guitars, but still different.
All three in the batch were intonated. I missed that one of the Levin would have DADGAD tuning when I was doing the measurements and I had to measure the intonation twice. In any case, the mistake was a good experiment. It turned out that the first intonation of the nut for a normal tuning was very similar between the two almost identical guitars with a fixed bridge. This indicates that in a factory you should be able to measure some guitars of the same model, take a mean value and then use that intonation on all guitars of the same model and get pretty good intonation at the nut. In a DADGAD tuning, three strings have a different tuning, the other three have slightly thinner strings in the Newtone Herritage set. The intonation of the nut for the strings with a different tuning was very different (about 2 mm) while the intonation of the thinner strings was almost identical. One can conclude that a measured intoned nut saddle works very well even if you change the string thickness, but not as well if you change the tuning.
I have also got a white board where I will write down everything that is different from a normal GammelGura for the guitars I work with! You learn.
An interesting observation is that the one with a fixed bridge had better quality of the wood, especially in the side and bottom. Those with floating bridges had inferior timber. The tap tone in the top was also better on the one with a fixed bridge, it also sounds best when finished I think. All three guitars were very blonde, but the right color on the bottom and side was much darker from the beginning and hid most of the flaws in the wood. You can see the darker red color as a shadow under the string holder and also a little of the red on the back of the one that was converted to a permanent bridge, otherwise most of the red has faded away.
As usual with Levin parlor guitars, the bottom and top were about half a mm too thick to sound at it's best, about 3,5 mm. They were thinned to just under 3 mm. Both guitars got a new fretboard with a 16 ″ radius and bridge in Madagascar rosewood. I used Stewmac's new Gold frets, which is made of the same metal as the EVO Gold bands, for the first time. Very good frets and better than the Dunlop brass frest I used before I think.
On request from the customer, I adjusted down the string height to 2,3 mm on all of them instead of 2,5 mm on thick E (D) on the 12th band and the usual string height 1,5 mm on thin e (d). This may become a new standard for me, it does not rattle at least when I play.
GG175 with an original floating bridge was in poor condition. It had big cracks in the top that I filled with spruce sticks, the bottom was completely loose and had shrunk unusually much. The top had also been painted on (or rather smeared on!) with some type of plastic lacquer. Fortunately, it was possible to gently scrape loose the new lacquer without scraping through the original lacquer underneath. To be able to glue back the bottom, a 6 mm wide (!) rosewood strip was glued in between the bottom halves. The shade after the string holder is the only problem with converting from floating to a fixed bridge. Just give it another 50 years… Since it's DADGAD tuned I can not play it, but I think it sounds good.
GG174 with an original fixed bridge was in good condition. No cracks except for a small one in the joint between the bottom halves. The neck in birch / maple on both this and GG175 is slightly V-shaped and just below the border to feeling too thick. Nice to play on. The new fretboards were made 6 mm thick, with a 16 ″ radius cut in, they were about 5 mm thick on the edge. I skipped the plate in maple in the bottom of the neck pocket as both guitars came loose nicely in the glue without chipping up the neck block. The neck foot on it was sawn unusually obliquely, but it was compensated by sawing just as obliquely in the neck pocket! Because it was in such good condition, the renovation went without problems.
All guitars in the batch have been given a slightly different bridgeplate in spruce across the entire top. My thought was that the change would provide a faster response. It's hard to say if it turned out that way, the only thing I can say is that these three sound very good and especially this one with a fixed bridge as the original. Maybe the problem with the body's resonant tone decreased.
GG179 was grandmother's guitar, a European made parlor from about 1910. Crack-free except for the classic cracks on both sides of the fretboard glued to the top and with a thin strong V-shaped neck. Unusually, it got plum wood in both the fingerboard and neck. Plum wood is almost as hard as rosewood and as dense as ebony in structure. The heartwood can be as dark as rosewood, but is for the most part a little redder or salmon pink in color. Plum wood is probably the best alternative if you want local woods in a fretboard and bridge. I still think that rosewood is unbeatable when it comes to the sound, this one sounds good but would probably have had a fuller tone with rosewood. As the wood in the fretboard is lighter than usual, I used black side dots.
I had a problem with the top, under the glued piece of the fretboard it was not flat. I had reset the neck one more time when the height of the saddle went wrong, even though I measured carefully before gluing. After putting a spruce shim in the top under the fretboard and sanding the surface flat, it turned out right. In the future, I will keep my eyes open and double check and maybe flatten the top under the fretboard before measuring the angle. A small, small error in the neck angle gives a great effect of the height of the saddle. I have changed from hot hide glue to fish glue and Old brown glue for gluing the neck in this batch. If something goes wrong with the neck set, it is easier to loosen the neck again, especially since they do not dry as quickly as hot hide glue. After 12 hours they are still not completely cured.
May well take some picture when they are handed over eventually 🙂
To make my segmented saddles, I need four bone posts and two larger bones for the outermost E / e strings.
When bone postst are to be made, I thin the thickness of the saddle blanks to 5,0 mm and a number with a few tenths more or less thickness in my drum sander. The precision when I saw in the spruce piece for the segmented saddle is not completely perfect, it is good to have some alternatives. Then it remains to cut the thinned saddle bone blanks into pieces that are partly 5,5 mm and partly 13 mm wide. I have previously used jigs and a hacksaw for cutting, but it was hardly perpendicular cuts. It was also both laborious and difficult. Something must be done.
I found a small handy circle saw made of Proxxon, and KG 50. It seemed to be perfect for the purpose.
When I got it home, I had to work a little extra to modify it before I could start. There was a 5 mm gap between the blade and the clamp to be able to cut at 45 degrees. I needed to cut the whole saddle bone blank into small 5,5 mm long pieces, so I made some abutments to extend the jaws in the clamp. I used aluminum. In addition, the stop that came with it was very small and swaying and the width 5,5 was at least + -1 mm when I tested. It had to be a real screw as a stop instead.
A problem with the stop was that the cut piece easily got stuck between the stop and the blade. Since the blade has the consistency of hard bread, some broke. Now I use an approximately 3 mm thick aluminum plate between the blank and the stop screw which is removed during cutting. Then a gap is left when the bone post is cut to fall into and it does not get stuck and destroy the blade.
It works very well! Perfect 90 degree cut with the right dimensions and no sweat in the forehead. Each cut takes about 10 seconds. My point extraction (and face mask) is necessary as the sanding pad produces a lot of fine-grained bone dust. The flour is so fine-grained that it cannot be vacuumed off, you must use a damp cloth.
Just got home 200 new 90 x 12,3 x 5,3 mm saddle bone blanks made from camel bone from New Delhi in India. Clearly exotic! This is the third order from www.luxurynaturalcraft.com no problem. My contact person is Rashdi Malik.
Botanize among all the old originals that have been replaced over the years, they are available under the menu options "For sale" and "Tuning screws"!
I bought a lot of well used old files at a local auction via a picture online. When I picked them up, they were twice as big as I thought, probably 10 kg of scrap iron! But there were several nice finds among them after all, most were Öberg's quality files. After hydrochloric acid sharpening for 12 hours in 30% hydrochloric acid, they became like new or at least much sharper. A smaller file was perfect for the least enjoyable part of the renovations, to file the ends of new frets. It cuts like butter! The old dull file I used before is now retired.
I geeked into files and found one online book from 1961, “A few words about Öberg's files”. In the middle of the book, there was some good advices on how to use and store files. Having files and rasps together in a box that I had before was not good, so I made a holder for the most used and freshly sharpened files and rasps where no one scratches against each other. With holes and plugs, you can divide the compartments in the holder so they fit different file widths. If I were to redo it, I would make at least three rows of holes with a 3 mm offset between the holes for the best adjustment of the compartments. The longest metal file in the holder was one of the auction files. Now I just need a real file brush!
When I renovated my fine Levin parlor with rosewood at the bottom and sides I was very unsure how old it was. It has no serial numbers stamped. I hesitated between a very early Levin or a manufacture around 1920.
The riddle is approaching a solution when pictures of a Levin lute guitar marked MAY 9 1901, the oldest dating I have seen on a Levin apart from the mandolin guitar from the same year with number 244 that I renovated, just appeared.
This lute has exactly the same ink stamp as my parlor and the same pyramid bridge. It seems that Levin did not get started with his serial numbers on many of the first manufactured instruments. Some got number stamps like the guitar mandolin, others just ink stamps like my parlor and sometimes also as in lute an ink stamped date dating. It is also interesting that MAJ is spelled in English "MAY", Herman got the stamps from the USA.
I did a double check on the original braces in the bottom which were replaced during the renovation of my parlor, but there was no hint of markings. My parlor is very early, perhaps one of the very first to be made. In any case, hardly later than about 1902 and not 1920 as I thought before.
It's on it's way. All six guitars in the batch have been repaired, the bottom and ltop have been thinned where needed, the necks have been given a carbon fiber rod, the top and bottom have been given new braces.
Three in the batch have the same buyer, I intend to complete the three in parallel first and maybe do a few small things with the others in the meantime. The focus is on the three that have now had the bottom glued, bridges and fretboards made and each one a K&K pickup. I have also fitted plugs and reinforcements around the stringpin holes.
This is the situation right now. I'm looking forward to hearing if the extended bridge plate gives a quicker response, judging by the Anderberg with a similar bridge plate, there is a good chance that it will be so :-)
Two of three Levins in the same number order from 1920 and a "grandma" guitar, a European curved guitar from about 1910. The Levins get a new rosewood board, the "grandma" guitar gets a mustache bridge and a fingerboard in plum wood.
The other three are a good distance along the way too.
It is not often you get to work with a historical instrument. This parlor guitar made by Pehr A. Anderberg in the USA is one such. It has a fully functional trussrod that was patented by Anderberg as early as 1894 before Gibson patented its variant in 1923. Pehr passed away in 1910 and the patent was invalid when Gibson received his patent. Here is Anderberg's patent from 1894. Gibsons patent from 1923.
In the patent, in addition to the trussrod, there was, among other things, a tricky bridge that actually resembles the one I invented for my very first "renovation" (which I am now a little ashamed of)! Several flies in one go. The "trussrod" in the patent is actually not a rod but a wire.
It all started when my friend Farre (who has been an apprentice in the room twice) sent a link to a guitar for sale on a Swedish auction site, Ekenbergs Auktioner in Karlshamn in Blekinge. The auctioneer had taken very nice pictures and the guitar was very interesting, I wrote "Buy it!" in the reply email.
- Total length: 95,5 cm
- Top (upper round, waist, lower round): 23,5 - 19 - 33,5 cm
- Side (neck block, waist, end block): 9 - 9,8 - 10,8 cm
- Neck: Soft V-shape
- Fingerboard (nut, 12th, bridge): 47 - 57 - 59 mm
- String length: 62,5 cm
- Lacquer: Spirit lacquer/Shellac
- Weight: 1274 g
- Thickness top: 2,8 mm
- Thickness of the side: 2 mm
- Thickness bottom 2,5 mm
After a bit of googling on Anderberg, I found this information in an old magazine, The Music Trade Review, from 1904 and also the patent.
WILL MAKE MANDOLINS AND GUITARS.
[Special to The Review.]
Boston, Mass., Jan 12, 1904. PA Anderberg-, who formerly made guitars and mandolins for John C. Haynes & Co., of this city, now merged in the Oliver Ditson Co., has formed a co-partner-ship with his son, Ralph H. Anderberg until recently a mandolin and guitar manufacturer of Mt. Vernon, NY, for the purpose of making guitars and mandolins. At present the factory of the two Anderbergs (father and son) is located at their home on Cottage street, Chelsea, Mass., But they contemplate moving their workrooms to Boston, in the near future.
By a lucky coincidence, I received an email from Bruce Cowan in the US asking for details on the Bauer guitar from the 1890s that Farre and I renovated during one of his visits to my shop. I quotes some of his emails here.
“George Bauer was a manufacturer, and I do not think he was a luthier. He came to Philadelphia around 1890 as a young salesman for the Boston company John C. Haynes, manufacturers of Bay State instruments and many others.
He started marketing his own make of guitars and mandolins in 1894. His luthier was Ernest Anderberg. In 1898, Bauer partnered with SS Stewart the banjo manufacturer, and then Stewart died. In the catalog linked on your site it shows two lines of instruments, the Monogram and more expensive George Bauer line.
He supplied a Monogram equivalent to the Sears Roebuck catalog company through 1903 or so. They were labeled Acme Professional, and I see one on your page. In 1898, Ernest left the company and his father Per Anderberg came to help ramp up production, as he had done with Bay State guitars in Boston. Per (usually spelled Pehr) was born near Malmo and learned the trade there. I've been in touch with Kenneth Sparr about that… perhaps you know him, as he is a Swedish guitar scholar.
(There were other Swedes at Bay State who went on to form Vega guitars and became VERY successful. Earlier, Per's brother Erland Anderberg started a factory in Mount Vernon New York. By 1900 it had 50 employees. I have not yet found out what labels went on them, but there must have been thousands! It continued until 1915. There's probably another article in these Swedish makers from the Boston area.)
Bauer had a lot of business trouble in 1901 or so, when he cut out the Stewarts, and the company reformed again in 1904 with his brother Emil at the helm. I think the company was gone by about 1911 or so. Emil was involved in the Keen-o-phone phonograph company, and it was gone by about 1914.
I found that Bauer died in 1946 in an insane asylum in Pennsylvania. I found other evidence of mental illness, and it may explain the business trouble in the early 1900s and why he disappeared from the music business. ”
In addition to details about the Bauer guitar, I mentioned the Anderberg guitar in the conversation with him and it turned out that he is probably the one in the world who knows the most about Pehr A. Anderberg! He was one of many in a whole collective of Swedish immigrants to the USA who made guitars of high quality, he was probably one of the most skilled and was hired as a craftsman by several large manufacturers. This is what Bruce writes in an email (where he included the auction guitar, the only one marked P. A. Anderberg that he knows of).
“I think I need to complete the Bauer story before I tackle the Anderberg story. With the Anderbergs I could look at other Swedish makers of that time in Boston, like the Nelsons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vega_Company
I have never seen an Anderberg labeled guitar. This is a rare object. Here's the basic PA Anderberg information I've researched. I did not include the footnotes, but I have marked the sources.
Per Andersson Anderberg was born May 21,1838, in Tygelsjo near Malmo, Sweden (Swedish reference). He was an apprentice in the cabinet shop of Carl Johan Bergman in Malmö during the period 1854-1860. (Reference from Kenneth Sparr). He came to America in 1864 (1900 US Census, Ernest's account). He made guitars for C. Bruno, the well-known Manhattan manufacturer and retailer. (Son Ernest's account).
In America, he was known as PA Anderberg or Pehr Anderberg. Records show that Pehr Anderberg married Hulda Elfrida Huppner (b. Sweden, 7 June 1851) in 1872 in Brooklyn. (footnote church record).
The 1873/4 City Directory for New York lists a Peter Anderberg as a guitar maker working at on Pearl Street, in Manhattan, and living in Brooklyn. The directory shows no music retailers or manufacturers listed at that address in that era.
Pehr's brother Erland came to America in 1873 (later passport app), and the two of them made guitars in Mount Vernon, New York and the adjacent settlement of Washingtonville. Ernest Alfrid Anderberg (DATE) and Rolf Hugo Anderberg (DATE) were born at Mount Vernon. Erland manufactured guitars and mandolins there until about 1915.
Pehr and his family moved to Malmo late in the 1870s, where his son Edvin was born in 1880. Pehr had a retail store there (Ernest, Swedish source?) The family returned to the United States in August, 1882 (immigration records).
On their return they lived in the Boston area. PA Anderberg supplied guitars to the John C. Haynes & Co. From about 1888-1891, he was the foreman in their factory.
After that Anderberg went into business for himself in Chelsea, near Boston, manufacturing fretted instruments for August Pollman, a New York retailer. In 1894, he received a U.S. Patent 516717A, an improvement on guitar design, an adjustable stiffening wire that was the forerunner of the truss rod. The only guitar this author has seen with Anderberg's name on it is likely from this period, and it has this improvement. It was sold at auction in Sweden in January 2021.
Around 1898, PA Anderberg began working for Stewart & Bauer in Philadelphia following the merger of banjo manufacturer SS Stewart and George Bauer, a maker of guitars and mandolins. Production was ramped up to supply “Acme Professional” instruments to Sears Roebuck & Co. (Anderberg's son Ernest, who had learned luthiery at his father's side, had been making guitars for Bauer since about 1893.)
In 1904, Anderberg was back in business in Chelsea, either as a repairer, maker, or both. In the summer of 1907, Hulda and Pehr visited Sweden. In April, 1908, Anderberg's shop was destroyed in the Chelsea fire.
Per Andersson Anderberg died in Chelsea on March 18, 1910. By then, his son Ernest had returned to Chelsea, and he continued working there as a repairer for a few more decades.
ATTACHED are a couple of screen shots from the main source. It is not completely accurate. I hope to visit Boston and see the author's papers. Also, the fire is out of historical sequence. I used a lot of maps and other resources.
The main source is viewable here: https://archive.org/details/contributionstoa00ayar Searching the text does not connect with the table in the back of the book.
Anderberg had built "Tilton patent" guitars when he worked for Haynes, and knew that having a popular patent could pay off over the long run. Tilton came up with some interesting innovations, mainly a solid wood rod that was an extension of the neck running through the body to the end pin, taking some stress off the neck joint. These often had a metal disk badge floating in the soundhole, attached to the rod. They also had tailpieces. On a few, the wood grain ran diagonally.
The Anderbergs and Bauer had factories with maybe 30 employees. I see pictures of a three-story brick building. Then the Chicago manufacturing took off with huge plants, and that ended Bay State and Bauer and Erland Anderberg.
Pehr's son did not spend much time in luthiery, as I've seen him in city directories doing other work, but the mention of his work in Mount Vernon seems to indicate that he worked with his uncle Erland at least briefly. It is the only indication I have of a connection between Pehr and Erland after 1880 or so. The son was young at this time (20s) and Pehr was old (66).
Pehr's brother Erland Anderberg had a patent too. An adjustable bridge.
Erland had a factory in Mount Vernon, New York from 1882-1915. In 1900 he had dozens of employees. He must have made thousands of instruments, but I can not find out who put their label on them. Probably one of the big New York City retailers. I have not seen any instruments attributed to him ”.
A really fantastically detailed account to say the least, a big thank you to Bruce Cowan!
Pehr and his brother were clearly very knowledgeable and skilled craftsmen and made many of the most beautiful guitars made in the United States around the turn of the century 1900 under different names. This guitar marked P. A. Anderberg was most likely manufactured between 1904 and 1908 before his workshop in Chelsea burned down. Maybe Pehr brought this guitar to Skåne during his visit to Sweden in 1907, the auction in Blekinge is not far from Skåne. Unfortunately, Farre did not get hold of those who sold the guitar, the only thing he learned was that many in the family for the estate were sailors. Probably the history had cooled down and the guitar hung as a wall decoration with its previous owner.
I promised Farre to repair it if he bought it, luckily he got it for SEK 8500. There was a bidding war with another buyer, otherwise it would have gone for less money. It will fit well next to his equally fine Bauer guitar which was perhaps built by Pehr's brother! Well. After a number of weeks, I got the guitar home in a Gator 3/4 case in which it was just possible to fit the guitar. A size comparison with Farres Bauer guitar and a Levin parlor. The shape was very similar to the Bauer guitar.
The guitar was in good condition but not without problems. The bridge was loose and the bottom had a crack in the middle joint and the bottom was loose from the side in some places. The top was deformed around the bridge and the bottom of oak was sunk. The tuners were very strange and as it turned out later unusable when the cog slipped when trying to tune. The neck was bent, the reason was that the trussrod had not been tightened, and it had probably been kept unplayed with tuned up strings for many years. The neck had been re-glued with carpentry glue, there was also carpentry glue in the middle joint of the bottom and at the edge of the bottom. Two brass nails had been nailed into the neck foot… The end block later turned out to be cracked in the middle. The side had received some almost invisible stab wounds in two places, they could easily be glued together with hot skin glue.
I was very curious about the construction of the trussrod, as the neck had to be reset the step was not far to loosen the fretboard to really be able to study the trussrod and make it easier to loosen the neck. It turned out that the neck had a "Levin attachment" without dovetail, it had probably gone well to loosen the neck without taking off the fretboard first.
The trussrod was not a wire as in the patent, instead it looked pretty much like a normal Gibson type trussrod. I guess it did not take long before Pehr realized that a rod works much better than a wire! The trussrod has its problems as it protrudes into the fretboard at both ends. The attachment at the neck foot is strong, the bar has been bent 90 degrees, which can be seen in the pictures, but the nut can not be tightened too hard as it only rests on the ebony nut and the end wood on the fingerboard. On this particular guitar, the trussrod does not work so well as the wood of the neck is both strong and hard. The most important thing is that it is tightened and not loose, you can not bend back the neck relief more than a little bit. I specially made a fixed 8 mm wrench to access the nut which was very tight. A crescent-shaped hole for the trussrod was recessed on the underside of the nut.
It was easy to loosen the bottom. The braces at the bottom were relatively loose, the glued spruce to oak does not sit as well as spruce to spruce. However, the braces in the top were really tight! I like the bracing in the top, it is similar to the one I use in my GammelGura. I actually got some inspiration and nowadays, I stick the ends of the braces under the kerfing on GammelGura guitars and have modified the bridge plate so it goes over the entire top.
It is noticeable that it was a skilled craftsman who built the guitar. An extremely beautiful bridge and end pin, nicely and sensibly put together otherwise.
As I said, the top was deformed around the bridge and also the bottom, I tried to get it in some pictures. The bottom still curved more when it was loosened from the side, the oak had shrunk and the glue in the bottom braces held up.
To flatten the top and bottom, the braces were removed from the bottom and around the bridge in the top. The top and bottom were thoroughly soaked with water and put under pressure for a few days.
The bottom could be glued without major problems, part of the edge of the bottom had to be scrapped away in the narrowest place as usual. The shrunken bottom has a smaller circumference than the sides, a simple solution is to push the sides in a few mm in the narrowest place for the best fit.
The fretboard was glued back without any problems.
The neck was glued on. Despite all the measurement, it was not perfectly glued in, the biggest reason was that the fretboard was not completely straight. When the frets were removed, I sanded the board that had a 10 ″ radius plane. Unfortunately I had to sand at the top of the fretboard but also at the 12th fret. When the fretboard was straight, the string height of the 12th fret became half a mm too high. I reglued the neck a second time and got to the angle perfectly. A fret at the top of the bridge instead of a saddle places high demands, there is virtually nothing to correct if the neck angle is not perfect.
The bridge, still with its original pins, was re-glued with hot hide glue. The bridge's stringpin holes had deep worn notches from the strings, they were also not centered in the hole. I used tape as "a dam" for superglue and sanding dust of rosewood that filled the grooves. It worked well!
The fretboard, which was sanded flat, was re-fretted with new and higher nickel frets. The originals were saved in the case, but they were soft and not of the best quality. The light colored parts of the fretboard are the areas that were not sanded down.
To intonate better, the fret groove was filled in the bridge and a new fret was mounted 2 mm further down on the bass side and 1 mm further down on the treble side. Some previous damage on the top around the bridge was hidden with golden brown stain, the scrapped edge of the oak bottom was repaired with spirit varnish and a thin brush. New Golden Age tuners with black knobs were fitted.
All replaced parts are saved in the case for the guitar. After four days of vibration, it sounds open and loud with low tension Newtone Heritage 0.11 strings.The intonation on the 12th fret is good. Compared to an GammelGura with all the features, the tone is more brutal and more primitive than I am used to. The metal fret "saddle" on the bridge and the nut in ebony are not optional for the tone. The body in oak, on the other hand, is more resonant than expected. 100 years of drying will probably do its thing!